Author Topic: Buffalo Bayou an unlikely hotbed for alligator snapping turtles  (Read 208 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Online Elderberry

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 4,986
Buffalo Bayou an unlikely hotbed for alligator snapping turtles
« on: November 29, 2018, 09:46:54 PM »
Houston Chronicle by Molly Glentzer 11/29/2018

The creature didn’t growl and didn’t need to.

The alligator snapping turtle held menace enough in its massive, gaping jaws, which ended in a sharp beak poised like the fangs of an agitated rattlesnake. Its long, plump claws dug into the sand above thorny, wrinkled skin and a deeply-ridged carapace about the size of a large dinner platter.

Wildlife biologist Eric Munscher has wrangled bigger alligator snappers than the young, 42-pound male he hauled onto land Saturday with help from two assistants. But every one he finds matters, because he’s studying the species in a part of Houston so unlikely it has become the talk of the turtle world.

During the past two years, Munscher and his team have tagged 60 alligator snappers — officially Macrochelys temminckii — in an area no one expected to find them, along a nine-mile stretch of Buffalo Bayou.

Munscher, who leads the Turtle Survival Alliance’s North American Freshwater Turtle Research Group, does not want to reveal exact study locations, to protect what he believes may be the largest population of alligator snapping turtles in Texas, and potentially one of the largest anywhere. And he believes the turtles have survived not in spite of, but because of, their heavily populated, citified surroundings. “They lucked into the whole metro thing,” he said. “It’s a good habitat, surprisingly, with a riparian shelf where females can climb up and lay eggs.”

Buffalo Bayou’s opaque brown waters have long yielded other scary-looking predators, including prehistoric-looking alligator gars and the occasional, actual gator. And there are plenty of other reasons not to swim there, including possible bacterial pollution.

“Nobody in their right mind would think of Buffalo Bayou as a refuge,” said Jordan Gray, a former Houston zookeeper and a collaborator on the study who now works at the Turtle Survival Alliance’s headquarters in Charleston, S.C. “It’s not this pristine habitat like the Upper Trinity River, but that’s what makes it so cool, to find this gem of a population.”

Unlike other river turtles, alligator snappers do not float around, and they do not have to sun themselves to raise their body temperature for food digestion. “These guys live in waters that typically don’t get too cold, so their body temperature sits at a decent level,” Munscher explained.

While the females lay their eggs on land, the males live entirely underwater, only poking their snouts above the surface for a few seconds, once an hour or so, for air. And in spite of their fearsome looks, they’re timid; they flee disturbances in the water, making it highly unlikely people in kayaks and canoes will spot them.

Munscher discovered the bayou’s turtles almost by accident through his day job with SWCA Environmental Consultants, while he was surveying wildlife across one of the city’s large parks. He put out turtle traps near the end of the study, not expecting to find anything special, and was astonished to haul up six alligator snappers.

Those first critters ranged from a 3-pound juvenile to a 96-pound male that could be 80 years old, which suggested an active breeding population.

More: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Buffalo-Bayou-an-unlikely-hotbed-for-alligator-13431367.php


That's just a youngster. I saw much larger in Sims Bayou.
He who makes an attempt to enslave me, thereby puts himself into a state of war with me.

Online austingirl

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 5,780
  • Cruz 2016- a Constitutional Conservative at last!
Re: Buffalo Bayou an unlikely hotbed for alligator snapping turtles
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2018, 10:17:42 PM »
I hadn't realized they were so timid. I remember seeing a picture of one as a child and was terrified.
Principles matter. Words matter.

Online Elderberry

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 4,986
Re: Buffalo Bayou an unlikely hotbed for alligator snapping turtles
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2018, 10:20:06 PM »
Just remember: "Don't let a snapping turtle bite you 'cause it won't let go till it thunders."
He who makes an attempt to enslave me, thereby puts himself into a state of war with me.

Offline Sanguine

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28,465
Re: Buffalo Bayou an unlikely hotbed for alligator snapping turtles
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2018, 10:31:41 PM »
Amazing creatures. 
Cui bono?

Walk in Wisdom
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand.

Online corbe

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 15,685
  • For your Viewing Pleasure
Re: Buffalo Bayou an unlikely hotbed for alligator snapping turtles
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2018, 10:33:43 PM »
    I loved riding my Virago into work on Allen Parkway/Memorial from HWY 6.
    Use to leave the building at night, get a 16oz and blow a joint across the street from American General Life Insurance where I was a programmer, to Buffalo Bayou, Downtown Houston. 
    Good times and beautiful sights, especially at nights.

 
« Last Edit: November 29, 2018, 10:34:15 PM by corbe »
No government in the 6,000 years of modern mankind history has led its people into anything but the history books with a simple lesson, don't let this happen to you.

Offline IsailedawayfromFR

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 8,473
  • Sept 11 2001 or March 6 1836
Re: Buffalo Bayou an unlikely hotbed for alligator snapping turtles
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2018, 03:48:58 PM »
Saw one once snap a broom handle in two with its jaws like we would bite a piece of spaghetti.

They are nothing to mess with.
Yearning to stay free takes place in many ways at many different times, whether by withstanding planes or bayonets


Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf